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Safety at Vail
Safety at Vail


At Vail, your safety is our top priority. Please read through the information below completely before you arrive to ensure your visit is a great and safe one!


Since 1999, Vail’s nationally recognized on-mountain safety program has been is dedicated to making Vail a safe, fun place to ski and ride through education and enforcement of the Skier Responsibility Code. You’ll see Mountain Safety personnel in their trademark yellow jackets throughout the day in high traffic areas helping guests and controlling the flow of traffic. With your help we can create a community of safe, responsible mountain lovers!

The Mountain Safety Program

  • Educating, enforcing, monitoring and providing positive reinforcement of the Skier Responsibility Code and the Colorado Ski Safety Act. 
  • Monitoring slow zones and high traffic areas across the resort. 
  • Increasing guest and employee awareness of safety initiatives through on-mountain and community-wide activities during National Safety Awareness Month and other designated dates through-out the season.
  • Daily public service announcements and safety tips on TV8.
  • Safety Saturday update each Saturday of the ski season through Vail’s social media.
  • Daily safety announcements with Ski School instructors and lift operators.
  • Promoting the “Play it Safe, Play all Season” campaign to guests and fellow Vail employees. 

*Note: Any employee in uniform is available to assist with safety questions and is empowered to suspend or revoke the skiing or riding privileges of anyone demonstrating reckless or inappropriate behavior.
Your Responsibility Code


Your Responsibility Code 
Vail is committed to promoting ski safety. While visiting Vail mountain, you may be joined on the slopes by traditional alpine skiers, snowboarders, telemark or cross-country skiers, skiers with disabilities, and snowshoe. Always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk involved with skiing and snowboarding that common sense and situational awareness can help reduce. Know your ability level and stay within it. Observe “Your Responsibility Code”—listed below—and share the responsibility with others
  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Be advised that Vail Ski Resort does not mark all potential obstacles or hazards. When marked, poles, flags, fencing, signage, padding, or other forms of marking are used to inform the skier/rider of the location of a potential obstacle or hazard. These markers do not guarantee your safety.
It is part of your responsibility under the Your Responsibility Code and the Colorado Ski Safety Act to avoid all obstacles and hazards. Learn more about safety on the mountain at is part of your responsibility under the Responsibility Code and the Colorado Ski Safety Act to avoid all obstacles and hazards. Learn more about safety on the mountain at our Vail Mountain Safety blog and through the National Ski Area Association.


Certain areas and trails at Vail, indicated on the trail map in yellow, are designated as slow zones. Mountain Safety, Ski Patrol and other mountain employees are posted in these areas to help educate and enforce safe, responsible skiing and riding. Please observe these posted slow areas by maintaining a speed no faster than the general flow of traffic. Slow Zones are often runs that host a spectrum of skiing abilities; space and speed are especially important in these areas. Slow down and go with the flow!
Slow Zones to Know: 
  • Flapjack 
  • Lower Born Free 
  • Chair 14, Sourdough Express, Area 
  • Practice Parkway 
  • Bottom of Chair 2, the Avanti Express (lower Avanti and lower Lodgepole)
  • Midvail
  • Henry’s Hill
  • Bottom of Game Creek Bowl


High Altitude Environment: We’re 8,200 to 11,570 feet above sea level on Vail Mountain! That makes for world-class snow, but it also means that some visitors may experience flu-like symptoms triggered by high altitude. Symptoms may include: headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, restless sleep, coughing and difficulty breathing. Please make sure to allow your body time to adjust to the attitude especially if you are traveling from sea level. Drink plenty of water, eat and watch your alcohol intake. If symptoms persist or you have a concern about your health, please stop into one of Vail’s Ski Patrol outposts or call (970)-754-4610. 

Electronic Devices: It’s hard to hear people around you with headphones on. What is someone is trying to ask you for help, or wants to thank you for skiing or riding safely and give you a free hot chocolate and you can’t hear them? Vail Resorts discourages the use of personal entertainment and communication devices because it compromises your ability to listen and react to your surroundings.
Make a Plan: Make sure you and your family members have a way to contact one another in the event of an emergency and set up a predetermined meeting spot for lunch and at the end of the day. Even with the best plans, things happen, so here are some helpful numbers to know. If you ever need assistance, please ask any Vail employee.
On-Mountain Emergency: 970-754-1191
Vail Ski Patrol: 970-754-4610 
Vail Security: 970-754-3049 

Lift Safety: Under Colorado state law, you cannot board a lift unless you have sufficient physical dexterity, ability and knowledge to negotiate or use the lift safely, or until you have asked for and received information sufficient to enable you to use the lift safely. You may not use a lift or any ski trail while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Backcountry Awareness: Our ski area boundaries separate the area Vail monitors from some pretty serious backcountry terrain. Because of that, and pursuant to the Colorado Ski Safety Act, the ski area assumes no responsibility for skiers traveling beyond the ski area boundary. To access the backcountry, use designated gates only. Areas beyond the ski area boundary are not patrolled, maintained or controlled. Avalanches, unmarked obstacles and other natural hazards exist. Be aware: the backcountry avalanche hazard may be extreme. Rescue in the backcountry, if available, is the responsibility of the County Sheriff, is costly, and will take time. Please educate yourself on the current avalanche conditions and the use of rescue equipment.


FREESTYLE TERRAIN AREAS: These areas are designated with an orange oval and may contain jumps, hits, ramps, banks, fun boxes, jibs, rails, half pipes, quarter pipes, snowcross, bump terrain and other constructed or natural terrain features. Prior to using Freestyle Terrain, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with Freestyle Terrain and obeying all instructions, warnings and signs.
Helmet use is encouraged! Watch a short film about helmet use.
Freestyle skills require maintaining control on the ground and in the air. Use of Freestyle Terrain exposes you to the risk of serious injury or death. Inverted aerials are not recommended. You assume the risk. Freestyle Terrain has designations for size. Start small and work your way up. Designations are relative to this ski area.
Freestyle Terrain
  • MAKE A PLAN. Every time you use Freestyle Terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use. Your speed, approach and takeoff will directly affect your maneuver and landing.
  • LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. You are responsible for inspecting Freestyle Terrain before initial use and throughout the day. The features vary in size and change constantly due to snow conditions, weather, usage, grooming and time of day. Do not jump blindly. Use a spotter when necessary.
  • EASY STYLE IT. Always ride or ski in control and within your ability level. Do not attempt Freestyle Terrain unless you have sufficient ability and experience to do so safely. You control the degree of difficulty you will encounter in using Freestyle Terrain, both on the ground and in the air.
  • RESPECT GETS RESPECT. Respect Freestyle Terrain and others. Only one person on a feature at a time. Wait your turn and call your start. Always clear the landing area quickly. Respect all signs and do not enter Freestyle Terrain or use features when closed.
EXTREME TERRAIN contains cliffs, very steep slopes as well as rocks and other hazards. Skiing or boarding Extreme Terrain is for EXPERTS ONLY.


Wearing a helmet on the slopes reduces the chance of injury. Today’s high-tech models are light, warm, comfortable, breathable and customizable. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission research shows that helmets would prevent or reduce 7,700 head injuries suffered annually on the slopes (44 percent of the national total). A top priority for Vail Resorts is the safety of its employees and guests. Vail Resorts’ employee helmet program, which began in 2009, requires that all on-mountain personnel don helmets while skiing or operating snowmobiles. Children age 12 and under must wear a winter sport protective helmet while participating in ski and ride school. In addition, children and teens under age 18 who participate in designated children's classes or programs must wear a helmet. Helmets are a mandatory part of any child’s ski and snowboard package at all of Vail Resorts’ retail and rental outlets (unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use).


Vail Mountain Uphill Access Policy

Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers, etc are bound by Colorado Skier Safety Act, as amended, and should abide by Your Responsibility Code. Skiers must not impede or obstruct ski area operations at any time. When engaged in any of these activities one should:
During Daytime Operations
1. Call the trails hotline to understand the approved route, 970-754-3049
2. Stay towards the side of the trail.
3. Position yourself so that you are visible from above.
4. Wear brightly colored clothing.
5. Dogs are not allowed.
6. Obey all pertinent signage.
7. Avoid all areas where machinery is operating.

During Nighttime Operations

1. Call the trails hotline to understand the approved route, 970-754-3049
2. Abide by all of the above-described (recommendations) requirements.
3. Wear reflective materials.
4. Carry a light. (Hike with a light on at all times) ?
5. Avoid all areas where machinery is operating
6. Keep dogs on a leash at all times
7. Be aware that ski area emergency services are not available

Colorado Ski Safety Act
The Colorado legislature, recognizing risks that are inherent in the sport, has passed the Colorado Ski Safety Act, which provides inherent risks of the sport and relative responsibilities of the skier; and the ski area. You must obey the Act. Under the Act, any person using the facilities of a ski area is considered a skier. A summary of the inherent risks listed below:


 Under Colorado law, a skier assumes the risk of any injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing and may not recover from any ski area operator for any injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing, including: changing weather conditions; existing and changing snow conditions; bare spots; rocks; stumps; trees; collisions with natural objects, man-made objects, or other skiers; variations in terrain; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.

The Ski Safety Act was amended in 2004 to include CLIFFS, EXTREME TERRAIN, JUMPS AND FREESTYLE TERRAIN as inherent dangers and risks of the sport.

Skiers and Riders should be advised that a green circle, blue square, or black diamond trail at Vail Ski Resort is not necessarily the same as a green circle, blue square, or black diamond trail at other resorts. The system is a relative rating of trails at each resort and does not compare trail difficulty between resorts. Skiers and Riders should begin with the easiest terrain and then move up in difficulty as their ability permits in order to understand the relative rating at Vail.